Area 61 is located on the Colorado-New Mexico boundary in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties, Colorado, and Colfax County, New Mexico, and includes the Raton Mesa coal region. The 5 ,900-square-mile area is an asymmetrical structural trough bounded by the Rocky Mountains on the west and the Great Plains on the east. The area is drained by the Huerfano, Apishapa, Purgatoire, and Canadian Rivers (and their tributaries), all tributary to the Arkansas River. The principal coal-bearing formations are the Vermejo Formation of Late Cretaceous age and the Raton Formation of Late Cretaceous and Paleocene age. Much of the coal in the area is of coking quality, important to the metallurgical industry. Topographic relief in the area is greater than 8,700 feet, and this influences the climate which in turn affects the runoff pattern of area streams. Summer thunderstorms often result in flash floods. Virtually all geologic units in the region yield water. Depth to ground water ranges from land surface to 400 feet. Surface and ground water in the area contain mostly bicarbonate and sulfate ions; locally in the ground water, chloride ions predominate. Potential hydrologic problems associated with surface coal mining in the area are water-quality degradation, water-table decline, and increased erosion and sedimentation.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrology of Area 61, Northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Coal Provinces, Colorado and New Mexico